A group of friends hikes along the Resurrection Pass Trail on June 26, 2020 in Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

A group of friends hikes along the Resurrection Pass Trail on June 26, 2020 in Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Out of the Office: There and back again

In a recent display of tenacity, mediocre coordination skills and a deep love for the outdoors, some friends and I strapped on our packs for a weekend in the woods of Resurrection Pass Trail in Cooper Landing.

Our target was Juneau Lake, which I had hiked to a few years prior.

I anticipated a fun but likely tiring trek through the first leg of Resurrection Pass with my friends. I knew I was in worse shape than the last time I’d done the hike, but was excited for the views it would provide and the good weather in the forecast.

My boots had other plans.

My old pair of Timberland hiking boots were purchased on sale through an online outdoor gear company in somewhat of a hurry before a 10-day trek through the Appalachians during my freshman year of college. After a mad dash to break them in, they served me well on my first big hiking trip and for several years after that.

Recently, though, something has started to change. I don’t know enough about hiking boots to know if this is in fact a real thing, but my boots seem to have grown stiffer and less forgiving with age. So much so that within the last few years, I haven’t been excited to take them out for more than a few miles.

If I was looking for proof that they were ready to retire, I probably could have found it on a shorter hike than the one to Juneau Lake. The first few miles were devoted to water breaks while climbing up the meandering switchbacks to Juneau Falls. Then the excitement of reaching the halfway point erased any growing fears I had about my boots’ trustworthiness.

Around mile 6 or so, though, it became abundantly clear we were no longer on the same page. I wanted to keep up with my friends. I wanted to reach our campsite that evening and enjoy food around the fire. My boots wanted nothing to do with that. There were moments I contemplated throwing them into the bushes and continuing on in the Birkenstocks I had packed for walking around our campsite. It would have been a very Homer way to finish a hike, at least.

(Please do not throw your boots or anything else into the bushes. Leave No Trace!)

Our eventual arrival at Juneau Lake was a combination of relief and the pain of coaxing my feet out of their laced prisons. My friends marveled in equal parts amusement and pity that they’d never seen someone get a blister underneath a callous before. What can I say? I’m here to break boundaries.

We all went to bed tired, full and happy to be done hiking that night. The next morning, I approached the edge of Juneau Lake to fill my gravity water filter for the all-important and life-giving coffee that I never camp without.

The serenity of a glass-smooth lake and feeling a gentle morning breeze across my skin was almost enough to make me forget that I would have to repeat the previous day’s hike in just over 24 hours.

A quick side note: If you camp regularly and don’t yet own a gravity water filter, drop what you’re doing and go buy one. They not only make group camping much more convenient, but shave off precious coffee-making minutes otherwise spent waiting for water to boil.

(Am I an influencer now?)

After an unplanned mid-day campsite switch, my companions and I settled into our tents and hammocks next to a rushing stream tucked away just off the main trail. This was not before we took a leisurely walk around Juneau Lake, stepping out of the way for myriad mountain bikers who made us feel embarrassed for complaining about the difficulty of merely walking through Resurrection Pass.

At our second campsite, spirits picked up, afternoon naps were had, fireside chatter ensued. Despite my tender feet taking up a large portion of my memory from that trip, I still fondly recall a few other things. The things that make hiking and blisters and sunburned noses worth it:

Feet submerged in a cold lake, cheeks warmed by a crackling fire, and a stomach filled with hard-earned food. A new card game played in a darkening cabin. A sunset peaceful enough to sneak up on you, but so stunning as to distract from one’s game.

Jokes shared around a fire — words tumbling over one another. Rain tapping out a rhythm across the top of a tent.

The sights, sounds and smells of Resurrection Pass, especially when shared with friends, are enough to make one hike nine miles in painful boots. And back again.

Out of the Office is an outdoor and lifestyle column written by staff at the Peninsula Clarion and the Homer News. Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

Juneau Lake shows off the reflection of its surrounding mountains on June 27, 2020 about 9 miles down Resurrection Pass in Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Juneau Lake shows off the reflection of its surrounding mountains on June 27, 2020 about 9 miles down Resurrection Pass in Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Embers ideal for cooking s’mores smolder away on June 27, 2020 at a campsite along the Resurrection Pass Trail in Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Embers ideal for cooking s’mores smolder away on June 27, 2020 at a campsite along the Resurrection Pass Trail in Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

More in Sports

Kenai’s James Sparks runs for a gain after a catch during a loss to Houston on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Houston, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Kards, Mariners collect Mid Alaska Conference honors

The Mid Alaska Conference Awards have been announced. The honorees are: First… Continue reading

Kenai Central’s Jorgi Phillips attacks against Homer on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Kenai volleyball sweeps Homer

The visiting Kenai Central volleyball team swept Homer on Tuesday in Southcentral… Continue reading

Sports in brief

Volleyball Upcoming meets: TBA Friday, Oct. 22: Junior Varsity Volleyball at Diamond/Service… Continue reading

MJ Hendren pictured kayaking at Hidden Lake next to a large rock exposure. (Photo provided)
Refuge Notebook: Geology of the Kenai … it rocks!

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about living in Alaska… Continue reading

Photo by Kat Sorensen 
The pedicure in question has seen many miles of hiking and walking since it was first painted on five months ago.
Tangled Up in Blue: A perfect pedicure

There is just the smallest sliver of light pink nail polish left… Continue reading

Photo by Angelica Smith/FWS 
Frannie Nelson collecting ground validation data for her undergraduate thesis in the Caribou Hills.
Refuge Notebook: Spreading my wings and flying into a new field

In 2019, I became a biology intern at the Kenai National Wildlife… Continue reading

Sports in brief

Volleyball Upcoming meets: TBA Thursday, Oct. 14: Varsity Volleyball at Juneau Tourney… Continue reading

Anthony Botello fishes for halibut off the coast of Homer, Alaska, on Sept. 6, 2021. (Camille Botello)
Out of the Office: Fish on!

I was pretty spoiled as a kid. The chest freezer in our… Continue reading

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Jacoby nabs two 2nds at World Cup

Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old senior at Seward High School, finished second in… Continue reading

Most Read